Comic book review: G.I. Joe #9 (Cobra Command) (IDW)

Cobra Command: G.I. Joe #9
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Cover price: $3.99

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art: Alex Cal
Colors: J. Brown
Letters: Shawn Lee

Cover A: Dave Wilkins
Cover B: Wil Rosado, with colors by Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Cover RI: Nick Runge

With the Cobra Civil War over and Krake installed as Cobra’s new Commander, writer Chuck Dixon wastes no time unleashing him on the world.

While the Joes are licking their wounds, having been relegated to making their home in a dilapidated and outdated Fort Baxter after losing the Pit and the Tuna and told by their funding sources in Washington not to expect any significant new toys to play with, Cobra reveals its master plan.

The vintage incarnations of Cobra had Cobra Island — IDW’s Cobra will apparently soon be the government of its very own sovereign nation. Cobra stages a full-scale invasion of the fictional east Asian nation of Nanzhao, quickly overwhelming and destroying its army and forcing its leaders to flee.

This provides some context to the Cobra Council’s Commander contest; the Council was preparing for this operation, and knew that G.I. Joe could prove to be thorn in its side. Thus, the contest served two purposes – to find Cobra’s next field commander, and to soften up what would likely be the significant roadblock to Cobra’s plans to invade Nanzhao.

However, that leads to some interesting questions — would Cobra’s invasion have succeeded had the previous Commander not been killed, thus eliminating the need to hold a contest with a goal to cripple the Joes? Was the previous commander’s death necessary in order for the Nanzhao invasion to succeed?

Once again, Chuck Dixon has crafted a scenario that at the outset looks like it could be interesting and exciting. But, as has been the case with IDW’s G.I. Joe books for years now, it’s difficult to get too excited without giving the story some time to unfold and see how Dixon handles it.

How this plays out is going to be interesting; Krake is clearly in control of field operations for Cobra’s invasion, but there has been significant groundwork done for him by the Cobra Council and, it is safe to assume, by the previous Cobra Commander. He’s essentially a college football coach winning a conference title with the previous coaches’ recruits at this point. He seems to know he has to execute the plan flawlessly in order to secure his position as Commander with the Council, but is aware that he’s ultimately just carrying out someone else’s plan.

The Commander also gets a new sidekick, a female Cobra agent named Savane, that we haven’t seen before, and events are set in motion that seem to point toward an exploration of the relationship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow in this G.I. Joe universe.

Some loose ends remaining from the Cobra Civil War storyline:
• Alpine’s new legs
• What happened to Dice after Snake Eyes #4
• Destro’s attempts to repair his body and free himself from his containment suit

IDW is kicking off the Cobra Command by having artist Alex Cal provide the art for the No. 9 issues of each of the three G.I. Joe series. Cal did some work in Season 1, penciling the issues revolving around the capture of the Cobra Dreadnaught submarine, and by the end of his run was doing some nice work. G.I. Joe #9 is quite enjoyable to look at; Cal’s work is as good as this title has had since the start of the Cobra Civil War. Starting with the Mamba squadron on page 3, all of the vehicles show in the book are crisp and clear. Both versions of the HISS Tank make an appearance – the classic HISS and the awesome Pursuit of Cobra model as well. The IDW-type Vipers from Season 1 and earlier in the Civil War storyline are gone, and we now fully have red-and-blue 1986 Vipers as Cobra’s primary ground troops. There are even Rattlers in the background of one full-page spread, and Cal even breaks out the Valor vs Venom-era Night Attack Chopper.

Half the fun of reading this issue is being able to pick through the art and find all the things Cal and Chuck Dixon decided to throw into Cobra’s army.

J. Brown’s colors are great, as well; there’s one page about two-thirds of the way through the book that is basically entirely blue, which has been seen far too often in this series; the issue overall looks fantastic, though. Brown makes the explosions and fire pop, and there are a lot of explosions and fire in this issue. The Page 7 panel showing television coverage of a HISS Tank column is great, too — something like this would’ve made a very impressive splash page had the pacing of the issue allowed for it.

The trio of covers for G.I. Joe #9 is a departure from what has been done with this series over the last few months; there’s no gimmick cover like a toy diorama, just a trio of solid illustrated covers.

Dave Wilkins’ Cover A features Flint and Duke; Wil Rosado’s Cover B shows Krake overseeing Cobra’s invasion force; and Nick Runge’s retailer-incentive cover feels much like an illustrated 1980s movie poster — it’s a collage of Joes posed in front of a Steel Marauder mech suit, of all things.

The Terrordrome has a preview of G.I. Joe #9 here.

Andy Bartlett

By day, I am the executive director of communications and marketing at Bemidji State University. The rest of the time, I'm a husband, father of three, and proponent of super heroes, lasers, space ships and explosions.

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